Obama’s Unwieldy White House

November 1st, 2010 at 12:09 pm | 44 Comments |

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Management gurus believe there are limits to how many people even the most effective CEO can directly supervise or manage.  How then can a modern president like Obama properly oversee the unwieldy executive branch?

The question of how many individuals a ‘boss’ can successfully supervise has been discussed since the time of the Roman legions. As I had the honor of taking classes from Dr. Harold Koontz at UCLA in the late 1960’s, next is provided a quote from his famous 1955 textbook, written with Cyril O’Donnell:

There is a limit to the number of persons an individual can effectively manage, even though that limit is not finite for every case but will vary with the complexity of the relationship supervised and the ability of managers and subordinates.

Given the variables of relationships and the abilities of managers and subordinates, the theorists are unable to provide a precise number of subordinates for successful management. That being said, most management professors would conclude that under the best of circumstances, a dozen direct reports is about the highest number of direct reports that can be managed by the best of CEOs.

One of the postulates in the discussions about this management issue, generally referred to as either ‘span of control’ or ‘span of management’ is that the person managing will actually be in the office and working. Without access to the boss by subordinates or direct supervision of the subordinates, the manager has moved from manager/boss to chief abdicator in charge. When managers do not have time to manage, there is chaos.

So, the questions for today are: “How many people is the President of the United States responsible for managing? How much time is he spending in the office? Could any President manage this number of direct reports given the public travelling and speech making schedule he has decided to pursue? ”

The President’s Cabinet, including the Vice-President is sixteen people and he has approximately thirty-one czars. The cynic within the author notes with wonder that the President of the United States needs a specific czar to deal with home weatherization efforts. (Note that czars report directly to the President as his eyes and ears on specific issues.) And of course, the President has his own staff of direct reports which, at a minimum, includes David Axelrod, Peter Rouse (Formerly Rahm Emanuel) and Robert Gates.

If, on average, each Cabinet member needs an hour every week and every czar needs an hour a month, and his three closest aides along with the daily security briefings need just a total of two hours daily, the President’s direct reports require a total of about thirty-four hours a week of his time. And needless to add, there are elected and foreign officials to meet with and the occasional crisis and more than a stray report to read.

So, what is the issue? Given that the President is somewhere virtually every day giving a speech, takes very regular vacations, tries to take time off on the weekend,  for the last month has been non-stop campaigning  and next week is off to India, who is managing the store? No one can mange any position without regularly working with those they manage.

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44 Comments so far ↓

  • CD-Host

    What you are describing is chief of staff not president. Further there are other agencies that can effectively act as reports for minor cabinet level officials. That being said I think there are too many cabinet level posts.

  • balconesfault

    Yet by virtually all accounts, the federal bureaucracy that reports to Obama is working better than it has in decades, all the while taking the regulatory tasks that it is charged with much more seriously than the previous Administration.

    But your concern is duly noted.

  • Oldskool

    And yet past presidents managed to do the same thing. Maybe the job comes with a magic wand. Or maybe their prayers are answered more effectively than the average person. It’s a mystery for the ages.

  • Watusie

    Anyone else reminded of 2000 when we were being told that Bush would be an effective as our first MBA president? How did that turn out?

    Seriously – what management gurus think about GE’s management structure has nothing to do with good government.

  • CD-Host

    Watusie –

    Anyone else reminded of 2000 when we were being told that Bush would be an effective as our first MBA president? How did that turn out?

    Fantastically. In terms of white house internal organization Bush-43 is the gold standard. I don’t think anyone can seriously dispute how good a job he did in areas like staff management. I think you might be confusing policy concerns with management concerns.

  • pnumi2

    Bush’s great genius was abdicating his power to Cheney, to handle the war, the depletion of the treasury, etc, and thus allow the great man to concentrate on the “so called trivial things.”

    Two years have gone by since Bush’s powerhouse administration left office. In two years, God willing, they’ll return to lead us the rest of the way down the primrose path.

  • Watusie

    Really, CD-HOST? Katrina, the day of 9/11, going into Iraq woefully unprepared, just to name three massive failures just off the top of my head.

  • TerryF98

    The only thing the Bush White House was good at was message control and outing CIA agents. The rest was an incompetent shambles.

  • Rabiner

    Not sure why this is an ‘Obama issue’ and not an ‘executive branch’ issue? The title makes it seem like this problem has only arisen due to Obama.

  • balconesfault

    Fantastically. In terms of white house internal organization Bush-43 is the gold standard. I don’t think anyone can seriously dispute how good a job he did in areas like staff management. I think you might be confusing policy concerns with management concerns.

    Seriously – you shouldn’t confuse message discipline with competence.

    Have you forgotten about how many disease outbreaks there were from contaminated foods during the Bush Administation? The mine disasters? The long time it took to get armor for humvees in Iraq? The debacle at Walter Reed? The failure of the SEC to propose any new oversight while the derivatives bubble grew and exploded? Bridges collapsing after failed inspections? Katrina? Months of the Ashcroft Justice Department investigating prostitution in New Orleans at the same time pre-9/11 terrorism warnings washed up in bureaucratic corners?

    The ONLY thing the Bush White House was good at was information management. That’s what happens when your hiring is based primarily on ideological loyalty and not on demonstrated competence. Under Bush, everyone knew they could screw up multiple times and never lose their job, as long as they never were publicly critical of the POTUS.

  • CD-Host

    balconesfault — I think you may be losing the thread. This was about employee management not policy you are listing policy.

    Things like:
    staffing handovers when people got sick
    keeping internal morale high
    resolving disputes without people leaking

    I.E. How good was George Bush-43′s white house at keeping their staff on board.

    Under Bush, everyone knew they could screw up multiple times and never lose their job, as long as they never were publicly critical of the POTUS.

    Now that is relevant and it was part of his management style. People didn’t tend to get blamed for failures. Blame for failure wasn’t deflected on staff so staff were not in CYA mode.

  • balconesfault

    Now that is relevant and it was part of his management style. People didn’t tend to get blamed for failures. Blame for failure wasn’t deflected on staff so staff were not in CYA mode.

    But taking blame for failure is a basic tenant of accountability in management – and what you too often seemed to have in the Bush Administration was a complete abdication of responsibility.

    For what it’s worth, given the regulators that I interact with, morale among rank and file bureaucrats is far higher today than it was a few years ago. They feel actually empowered to do the jobs they were hired to do. And the fuctions administered by the Executive Branch are working much better as a result.

    You seem to be hinting that a bunch of groupthink yes-men is indicative of good management. Personally, I’d say that’s one of the worst ways to run an organization.

  • CD-Host

    But taking blame for failure is a basic tenant of accountability in management – and what you too often seemed to have in the Bush Administration was a complete abdication of responsibility.

    OK good now we are talking about management style and yes I agree.

    For what it’s worth, given the regulators that I interact with, morale among rank and file bureaucrats is far higher today than it was a few years ago. They feel actually empowered to do the jobs they were hired to do. And the fuctions administered by the Executive Branch are working much better as a result.

    That’s tricky. You are going down a level. Bush wanted to cripple the government regulatory system. He wasn’t doing what a president is supposed to do there. OTOH he did run on this policy and was well known and the American people seemed fine with it. I’d say successfully breaking stuff was a sign of policy success.

    You seem to be hinting that a bunch of groupthink yes-men is indicative of good management.

    No I think not talking out of school is indicative of good management. My people are free to be critical of me in private, in public they advanced the department’s position not their own. I want strong internal debate just not external. External debate creates opportunities for enemies to exploit.

    So basically I agree with Bush on that one.

  • JeninCT

    Obama can’t manage his way out of a paper bag, unless of course the teleprompter gives him directions.

  • Watusie

    Jen, is the reason you admire Sarah Palin that she is such a good manager and she never ever uses a teleprompter?

  • armstp

    This is just another tear down the president article with absolutely no context and not much factual discussion.

    How does the author even know how the WH is managed? He does not.

    If the author wants to somehow suggest that the WH is managed poorly then how about providing some context and tell use how this WH compares to other WHs of other Presidents.

    And I do not think the WH and politics in general can always be compared to corporations and CEOs. CEO and businessmen do not necessarily make good government leaders. By the way, when was the last time we had a President who was a corporate leader? Almost never.

  • armstp

    I would point to the $787 billion stimulus. This is one of the biggest government efforts of all time and it has been managed perfectly. Is it not surprising that with this amount of spending that went out to RFPs that we have had absolutely zero scandals. Can you imagine a spending bill of this size that is spending on projects of all sizes right across the country and you have heard of no scandals? Amazing. You know that if there were scandals the Republicans would have found them and would be highlighting them. The stimulus bill is not only one of the most successful government initiatives, but it is also turning out to be one of the best managed government initiativees of all time, particularly for its size, how quickly it was put together and how quickly it was rolled-out.

    The auto bail-out was also managed perfectly. They managed to get rid of company management, cut down the size of these companies, lay-off thousands, financially restruture these companies, bring them back to profitability and it looks like the tax payers will get their money back at a profit.

    TARP seems also to have been managed well. Once Obama put a cap on bonuses those banks were pretty quick at paying back the money.

    etc. etc. etc.

    It is hard to find any real management failures in the Obama adminstration. Please name one.??

    Healthcare you say. Not really, they managed to get a very important bill passed in a very complex area and get 90% of what they wanted. So far the bill is being rolled out smoothly and on time.

  • JeninCT

    Watusie wrote:

    “Jen, is the reason you admire Sarah Palin that she is such a good manager and she never ever uses a teleprompter?”

    No, but I consider the fact that she annoys you a bonus.

  • CD-Host

    How does the author even know how the WH is managed? He does not.

    There are pretty regular staff complaints. For example the blow up about Rahm Emanuel and the negotiating strategy on healthcare. The fact that the economic team are being blamed and leaving under a cloud. The rumors about dumping Biden coming from the old Clinton people. You have snipping now in a year it will be books.

  • armstp

    CD,

    Your examples are total garbage. This level of people leaving after two years is pretty standard for every President, especially after the two greulling years that it has been. See my examples above of many actual programs that have been managed very very well under very very difficult times. Your points are more gossip rather than looking at actual examples and outcomes of management decisions.

  • Watusie

    Jen, Snooki from the Jersey Shore and Kim Kardashian annoy me as well.

  • CD-Host

    Your points are more gossip rather than looking at actual examples and outcomes of management decisions.

    This article is about the gossip level issues.

    This level of people leaving after two years is pretty standard for every President, especially after the two greulling years that it has been

    Actually no it isn’t. Lets take Chief of Staff:
    Andrew Card 5 years
    James Baker 4 years
    Rumsfeld and Cheney all 4 years
    Halderman 4 years
    Watson 5 years
    Sununu had a smilar short tenure in the job but he was’t expected to last.
    Similarly with Mack McLarty

    So I’m not sure this is typical. We really won’t know till the books start coming out.

  • armstp

    CD,

    Again you are equating management success with people leaving. I am not sure that is exactly the right metric. People leaving could be a sign of successful management, the decisions are made to get the right people in the seats for the time and the priorities and to know when to fold them.

    Again, I would highlight that the 111th congress and obama had one of the most successful legislators in recent times. In terms of the number of bills passes and the significance of the bills. I would also point out (as I do above) that many of the big initiatives by Obama and the WH have been managed very very well.

    It is funny, given all the opposition and scrutiny of the president there have been virturally zero scandals. I think they manage the WH very very well. I would only fault them on Sharron.

    Management outcomes are more important than 6 or 7 changes in the seats.

    It is funny you quote only Republicans in your list above. I would suggest that many of those you name clearly outstayed their welcome.

  • CD-Host

    It is funny you quote only Republicans in your list above.

    Watson – Johnson
    McLarty – Clinton

    I would have done Carter but he left the slot vacant for 2 years and so didn’t have a 1st chief of staff in the same sense. And Kennedy got shot so we have to toss out O’Donnell as a data point other than to note he did stay through Kennedy’s whole time in office.

    Management outcomes are more important than 6 or 7 changes in the seats.

    I agree. But the article is about staff not outcomes. Is Obama having an internal moral and turnover problem? It appears he is. Is that an important failing? It may not be. There is smoke we don’t know if there is fire and if so how bad it is. We won’t know likely until 2012. But the gossip is worrying.

    Bush-43 was exceptional for not having these problems. I can very easily understand not caring, but I stand by considering him the gold standard for having a happy staff that worked together. Mind you this is nothing like Carter for example whose staff hated him, or Clinton before ’94 which was pure chaos. So here is an area he is so-so at. No big deal.

    I would also point out (as I do above) that many of the big initiatives by Obama and the WH have been managed very very well.

    It seems like it so far. We’ll have to see to know for sure, but the evidence we have now points that way.

  • armstp

    CD,

    Actually the author is trying to make the argument, unsuccessfully, that Obama has too many people under him. The article is really not about people leaving.

    It is simply amazing to me that we have seen absolutely no, not even a small one, scandals related to the stimulus bill. It is incredibly remarkable how well the stimulus program has been managed. And it is all being done with an unprecedented level of public openess. You can go to the website and see where every single dollar is being spent.

    I see many people arguing that the healthcare bill was mismanaged, but the end result is they got a very difficult and complicated piece of legislation passed in one of the worst political environments of all time.

  • balconesfault

    cdhost: Bush wanted to cripple the government regulatory system. … OTOH he did run on this policy and was well known and the American people seemed fine with it.

    This is actually counterfactual. In fact, Bush ran on how well the Texas Government had run while he was Governor, and I know more than one environmentally savvy voter who believed that Bush as President would be like Bush I – a conservative, but a conservative committed to an effective regulatory policy. The whole “let Heritage select all the political appointees outside the DOD” thing really didn’t come out until after Bush had taken over the White House.

    No I think not talking out of school is indicative of good management. My people are free to be critical of me in private, in public they advanced the department’s position not their own.

    I don’t know if you’ve read anything by people who are no longer “true believers” who were in the Bush Administration – but apparently people were anything BUT free to be critical of Bush in private, and opinions that strayed outside the ideolgical lines that the administration wanted to follow were completely disregarded. Groupthink and fealty to Bush was the primary means of survival.

    armstp I would point to the $787 billion stimulus. This is one of the biggest government efforts of all time and it has been managed perfectly. Is it not surprising that with this amount of spending that went out to RFPs that we have had absolutely zero scandals.

    Precisely. As I’ve argued, clearly this care has cost timeline on the stimulus spending, and that has had negative political consequences this election cycle, but the Obama Administration has been extraordinarily conservative in how the money has been spent, going through very structured and documented proposal processes before the money goes out the door. You have to know that there’s probably been tens of thousands of dollars being thrown by think tanks at finding the scandals … and they haven’t. The management of the program should be a model for future government spending programs.

  • Yglesias » Endgame

    [...] — Have presidential administrations gotten too unwieldy? [...]

  • DirtyLibrul

    “Management gurus believe the most effective CEO can only manage 12 people directly. How then can Obama manage his bulky executive branch?”

    A: Because Obama isn’t “most people”. Next question…

  • CD-Host

    I don’t know if you’ve read anything by people who are no longer “true believers” who were in the Bush Administration – but apparently people were anything BUT free to be critical of Bush in private, and opinions that strayed outside the ideolgical lines that the administration wanted to follow were completely disregarded. Groupthink and fealty to Bush was the primary means of survival.

    I haven’t this would be very damning. Is there a specific source?

  • JeninCT

    balconesfault and armstp, I see you two are cooing about the stimulus, but what about the 50 billion in fraud?

    Model for future government program? Are you on drugs?

  • TerryF98

    “balconesfault and armstp, I see you two are cooing about the stimulus, but what about the 50 billion in fraud?

    Model for future government program? Are you on drugs?”

    Links please to non partisan reliable sources backing up that statement. You just can’t throw stuff out there with nothing to back it up at all. Are you Palin in disguise?

  • armstp

    JeninCT,

    What $50 bn in fraud? First, I have heard of it. I think if there was $50 bn in fraud it would be all over the news. Why is it not? Or is this some Glen Beck theory?

    There has been no fraud whatsoever regarding the stimulus. It has worked very well. It has done precisely what it was suppose to do, which was to stimulate the economy and stop the freefall. The long term infrastructure will also benefit the country for years to come. The stimulus was one of Obama’s and the Dems smartest moves. To bad they are not getting the positive they desire for the stimulus.

    It is funny I have never heard any really substantial analysis of the stimulus that actually makes a credible case for why the stimulus has not worked or was a bad idea. I mostly hear a lot of sloganeering, but not much substance from those who are critizing the stimulus. There is a lot of very credible analysis that suggests the stimulus worked and did exactly what it was suppose to do.

  • CD-Host

    It is funny I have never heard any really substantial analysis of the stimulus that actually makes a credible case for why the stimulus has not worked or was a bad idea.

    For example:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/02/09/is-stimulus-too-small_n_165076.html
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703999304575399420815017804.html

  • balconesfault

    Given the tone of this political campaign, I’m pretty sure that every ad locally discussing a Democratic Congressional Incument would have included the tagline “voted for 50 billion in fraudulent spending in the Stimulus Package”.

    They haven’t.

    Maybe Jen is referring to this:

    http://tinyurl.com/wingerlunacy

    Which is kind of funny, considering this headline yesterday

    http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2010/nov/01/protesters-interrupt-obama-rally/

    All I know is that someone is very confused. Perhaps all parties involved, actually.

  • balconesfault

    I don’t know if you’ve read anything by people who are no longer “true believers” who were in the Bush Administration – but apparently people were anything BUT free to be critical of Bush in private, and opinions that strayed outside the ideolgical lines that the administration wanted to follow were completely disregarded. Groupthink and fealty to Bush was the primary means of survival.

    CDHost I haven’t this would be very damning. Is there a specific source?

    You could pretty much start with Paul O’Neill’s book about life in the Bush Cabinet – “The Price of Loyalty”.

  • Rabiner

    CD Host:

    “”It is funny I have never heard any really substantial analysis of the stimulus that actually makes a credible case for why the stimulus has not worked or was a bad idea.”

    For example:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/02/09/is-stimulus-too-small_n_165076.html
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703999304575399420815017804.html

    Asking if the stimulus was too small doesn’t mean it was ineffective but rather that it wasn’t effective enough due to the lack of size. For the size it was, it seemingly had a positive impact on the economy. I haven’t found credible sources to say otherwise (which is different than saying that there was a different policy option available of course).

    Regarding the Bush White House vs Obama White House with regards to management style and effectiveness is I think this White House explores far more options instead of relying on the ideological position. The pragmatism displayed by Obama and his White House is far different than the lack of pragmatism displayed during the Bush administration. Perhaps Americans don’t like compromise (they don’t seem to) but the legislation that has been passed in two years was quite significant and far reaching even if scaled back a bit (size of stimulus, no public option). The lack of ‘group think’ is allowing for dissent and better policy discussion within the White House it seems.

  • CD-Host

    Asking if the stimulus was too small doesn’t mean it was ineffective but rather that it wasn’t effective enough due to the lack of size.

    The purpose of the stimulus is to get the economy back to a normal state. Yes the spending was helpful but without a normal state the economy can easily fall backwards to a lower equilibrium point. That is party of Keynes S curve, why a stimulus too small is very very bad in that it can create a temporary jolt which leads to a long stagnant slow/negative growth period….. You know exactly what we are having.

    If I’m a doctor and I give you enough medicine so that the disease takes 2 weeks to kill you and not 3 days that medicine wasn’t effective. Republican critics who argue the stimulus did nothing are full of crap. Those that argue that the stimulus was too small, and that just about every economist said at the time it would be too small are absolutely right. I do think the Dems deserve the blame for the fact we didn’t have a $2T stimulus. The stimulus was where negotiations broke down with Republicans. So either:
    a) horse trade
    b) pass a partisan stimulus big enough and watch independents freak

    but to
    a) refuse to horse trade
    b) antagonize the opposition party
    c) pass a too small stimulus because you can’t keep your own party in line
    d) have it be big enough so that independents still freak
    e) because independents freak refuse to pass another one

    is incompetence and stupidity. The people, like Blue Dogs, who are mostly responsible for that incompetence and stupidity will be losing their seats today. But please don’t pretend Obama / Pelosi / Reed did everything right here. This was a massive screw up on their parts.

    Perhaps Americans don’t like compromise (they don’t seem to) but the legislation that has been passed in two years was quite significant and far reaching even if scaled back a bit (size of stimulus, no public option).

    I think they are OK with compromise when they believe the overall result is a better bill not when universally people tell them the compromise resulted in a worse bill. In both the cases you mention very credible people have attacked the bill for those reasons. Obama campaigned on a public option. 2:1 opponents of the healthcare bill don’t think it is left wing enough, that’s something like 30% of the population that does not consider this a good bill because it is too corporatist.

    The lack of ‘group think’ is allowing for dissent and better policy discussion within the White House it seems.

    I agree. No question. The discussion on Afghanistan is a good case in point. On the other hand the lack of ideology and courage often results in incoherence, again Afghanistan, the stimulus, healthcare…. are good cases in point. Afghanistan is the most clear cut because Obama could have done whatever he wanted.

  • CD-Host

    You could pretty much start with Paul O’Neill’s book about life in the Bush Cabinet – “The Price of Loyalty”.

    Looked up the reviews. O’Neill was one of the first to cave to Cheney. Don’t know how I missed that must have been busy when it came out. I think that proves the point.

  • balconesfault

    CD Host The purpose of the stimulus is to get the economy back to a normal state.

    That would have been nice – but the Head of Obama’s Economic Advisors committee, Christina Romer, said that the stimulus was 50% too small to get the economy back to a normal state. The goal of getting the economy back to a normal state was sacrificed at the altar of what was political (which is why 1/3 of the stimulus was of the lowest-bang-for-the-buck form, tax cuts … and why it had to be less than $1 trillion), and to keep the bond traders from getting restless about the prospects for inflation.

    If I’m a doctor and I give you enough medicine so that the disease takes 2 weeks to kill you and not 3 days that medicine wasn’t effective.

    But America is not “dead”.

    I do think the Dems deserve the blame for the fact we didn’t have a $2T stimulus. The stimulus was where negotiations broke down with Republicans. So either:
    a) horse trade
    b) pass a partisan stimulus big enough and watch independents freak

    Horse trading with the Republicans was impossible. You might as well accept that reality, because it explains the last 2 years far more cogently than any other explanation.

    Hell – after HCR passed, you had Republicans running back to their districts bragging that certain provisions had been incorporated in healthcare thanks to them. In other words, the Democrats traded … and the GOP still didn’t deliver any votes.

    Meanwhile, there was no way to get 60 Senators to support a stimulus that large. Remember that it took 7 months for Al Franken to get seated … and had the Dems waited 7 months so they could get an “ideal” stimulus the nation would have bled profusely in the meantime.

  • CD-Host

    That would have been nice – but the Head of Obama’s Economic Advisors committee, Christina Romer, said that the stimulus was 50% too small to get the economy back to a normal state. The goal of getting the economy back to a normal state was sacrificed at the altar of what was political (which is why 1/3 of the stimulus was of the lowest-bang-for-the-buck form, tax cuts … and why it had to be less than $1 trillion), and to keep the bond traders from getting restless about the prospects for inflation.

    What exactly would the bond traders have done? Dump bonds and buy hard assets:
    like homes and thereby fix the mortgage problem
    like stock and thereby cause a huge bull market
    short the dollar and move abroad forcing a huge surge of demand for US goods

    What would they have done?

    CD: If I’m a doctor and I give you enough medicine so that the disease takes 2 weeks to kill you and not 3 days that medicine wasn’t effective.

    Balc: But America is not “dead”.

    dead =high unemployment in the analogy, so yes it is.

    Horse trading with the Republicans was impossible. You might as well accept that reality, because it explains the last 2 years far more cogently than any other explanation.

    No they don’t. I don’t see any evidence it was really tried. The idea that all 41 Republican senators were complete nihilists without any desires what-so-ever whose singular goals was to see an extra 6 Republican senators get elected for no apparent policy reasons strikes me as totally nonsense.

  • balconesfault

    dead =high unemployment in the analogy, so yes it is.

    10% unemployment is a nasty flu. 25% unemployment is dead.

    The idea that all 41 Republican senators were complete nihilists without any desires what-so-ever whose singular goals was to see an extra 6 Republican senators get elected for no apparent policy reasons strikes me as totally nonsense.

    Yeah? Well explain Olympia Snowe, who played a huge role in shaping the HCR bill that finally passed out of Max Baucus committee … whereupon the HCR bill that ended up coming for a final vote in the Senate was essentially identical to the Finance Committee Bill … and then Snowe not only votes against the final bill, but votes to filibuster it.

    The party discipline in the GOP is phenomenally high. You ignore how centralized the money stream is to GOP candidates … it flows through a very small number of conduits. Plus you have the Club for Growth and the Tea Party on the sidelines ready to primary anyone who votes with Dems on any controversial legislation.

    It didn’t take being a political nihilist. It took being a political coward. There really aren’t any moderates left in the Republican Senate Caucus with the guts to stand up to the power brokers, who are very far to the right.

    Hell – Snowe and Collins represented a state which overwhealmingly polled in favor of HCR (hell, Mainers overwhealmingly want a public option) – and yet Snowe and Collins voted to filibuster the bill. What does that tell you?

  • CD-Host

    Yeah? Well explain Olympia Snowe, who played a huge role in shaping the HCR bill that finally passed out of Max Baucus committee … whereupon the HCR bill that ended up coming for a final vote in the Senate was essentially identical to the Finance Committee Bill … and then Snowe not only votes against the final bill, but votes to filibuster it.

    1) She didn’t get some minor concessions she wanted
    2) Obama / Reid said stuff that hurt her feelings — Reid seems to not be good at dealing with bruised egos, that’s how McConnell got her in line according to rumor.
    3) She really really didn’t want to be the critical vote and wanted them to move the bill further to the right.

    The party discipline in the GOP is phenomenally high. You ignore how centralized the money stream is to GOP candidates

    Not really that’s broken down. You have GOP groups competing with one another. That’s why Freedomworks exits, that’s why American Crossroads is basically a shadow RNC. That’s why Palin can raise so much money.

    Besides Snowe doesn’t need money, she just needs some way to survive a primary.

    It didn’t take being a political nihilist. It took being a political coward. There really aren’t any moderates left in the Republican Senate Caucus with the guts to stand up to the power brokers, who are very far to the right.

    I agree there. Moderate and gutsy are gone. Arlen Specter might have been the last in the senate.

    Hell – Snowe and Collins represented a state which overwhealmingly polled in favor of HCR (hell, Mainers overwhealmingly want a public option) – and yet Snowe and Collins voted to filibuster the bill. What does that tell you?

    That tells me that aren’t voting with Maine. But see above.

  • balconesfault

    1) She didn’t get some minor concessions she wanted
    2) Obama / Reid said stuff that hurt her feelings — Reid seems to not be good at dealing with bruised egos, that’s how McConnell got her in line according to rumor.
    3) She really really didn’t want to be the critical vote and wanted them to move the bill further to the right.

    1) there were only 50 or more Democratic Senators that didn’t get exactly every minor concession they wanted out of the HCR bill.

    2) so her bruised ego was more important than the will of her constituents. Nice.

    3) Aha – she didn’t want to be the critical vote. Why? The next point discussed. She’s a political coward. And the GOP heirarchy enforces complete discipline right now.

    And the GOP heirarchy over the last two years had no interest in horse trading or compromise.

    And if polling is correct, today the voters of the US are going to reward them for that.

  • armstp

    CD,

    Your quotes above are not really responding to my thoughts. You are not reading carefully. Your quotes are (1) not real economic analysis, but rather commentary, and (2) they do not say that the stimulus did not work, only that we could have done more with more. No shit. We could have had a $5 trillion stimulus if we wanted.

    If you read what went on at the time, two things happened: (1) they had to cut the size of the stimulus to get the Republican votes they did, and (2) they were never really attempting to cover the entire output gap that was caused by the recession. Romer had estimated that to cover the entire output gap they would have needed a stimulus that was closer to $1.4 trillion. The goal was to only partially cover the output gap and to get the economy started again or at least stop the freefall or to provide some stimulus to the economy. In those goals they achieve exactly what they set out to do. Again I say there is no substantial research or analysis that says the stimulus bill did not work and did not do what it was designed to do.